Today in Rantastic we're discussing the difference between using Wi-Fi and Private LTE/5G for Industrial companies.
This topic becomes more and more common. Many industrial companies are trying to choose the best technology for Automation, AR, Asset Tracking and so on.
Many of these companies are using Wi-Fi at the moment, so let's see why they might want/need to turn into Private LTE/5G solutions or keep using Wi-Fi and moving to Wi-Fi 6.
First, let's see the common overview and comparison for different industrial technologies:
We can argue if the latency for Wi-Fi 6 is so small. Still, we need to consider that the price difference between Wi-Fi and LTE might be 30x as Private LTE/5G requires Network Core, Regulators consideration and MNO's involvement.
Here's why Qualcomm beliefs that Private LTE/5G is more suitable for industrial companies:
Range/Link Budget: LTE systems are generally developed and deployed using RF equipment with higher specifications, which extends the link budget considerably. As LTE is a cellular technology, it has been designed to operate well under fading channel conditions, providing good cell edge performance. As a very approximate rule of thumb, one LTE small cell will cover about the same area as two to three Wi-Fi access points at more or less equivalent power output. If CBRS 3.5 GHz spectrum and Category-B small cells are used, the range can be significantly greater still.
Spectral Efficiency/Capacity: Many of the concepts that improve range and reliability also increase spectral efficiency. LTE is more spectrally efficient than WiFi (more than double, according to some analyses) because of higher efficiencies at both link and MAC level from concepts such as hybrid automatic repeat request (ARQ) with channel state information, more granular modulation and coding schemes and more adaptable schedulers (compared to Wi-Fi). LTE is designed for mobility and outdoor operation, and with concepts such as long cyclic prefix, it can handle larger delay spreads, which also contributes to overall spectral efficiency.
Configurable QoS: The LTE QoS model allows for multiple layers of prioritization. It is well standardized and can be adapted to the needs of the application – for example, priority bearers can be engineered to provide low and predictable latencies, while default bearers can be configured for best-effort throughput. This is why LTE is proposed for mission-critical lifeline and production-critical automation use cases. There are many opportunities to take advantage of QoS in private networks.
Mobility: The undoubted strength of LTE. This includes intra-network mobility using standard cellular mechanisms and inter-network mobility – for example, "roaming" from private LTE to the public RAN. Where needed, LTE also supports high-speed mobility, which can be useful for vehicles and robots, for example.
Ecosystem & Interoperability: The 3GPP ecosystem is well developed with very good interoperability testing and certification processes, allowing organizations to deploy networks using a mix of suppliers and devices. Over-the-air interoperability applies especially to devices, but organizations can also expect RAN and core products to interoperate, and for compatibility to be maintained over multiple upgrade cycles.
High to Low Rate Scaling: LTE supports a wide range of devices and applications, from gigabit services such as 4K/augmented reality to NB IoT devices for low-power, low-data-rate services. These services can be supported on the same network. Many organizations have a mix of machine-type and human employees as users.
Spectrum Options: Wi-Fi is only deployable in unlicensed spectrum, whereas private LTE systems can soon also be deployed in CBRS 3.5 GHz shared spectrum in the U.S., as well as in unlicensed spectrum using MulteFire. It gives private organizations the right to use multiple 10 MHz or 20 MHz channels on an exclusive primary or secondary basis. Private networks can also be deployed in licensed spectrum with the agreement of the mobile network operator or regulator.
Security: LTE-based private networks benefit from proven security technology deployed in cellular networks worldwide. Classic SIM-based security can be used, as well as emerging non-SIM options. There is significant deployment flexibility, allowing for local credential management or centralized/remote credential management using roaming-based solutions.
Roadmap to 5G: LTE is feature-rich with an ongoing roadmap and is important to the development and evolution of 5G, in terms of both features/technology and business/use case. 5G itself has many advanced capabilities that are well suited to private networks, such as ultra-low latency (1 ms on the air link), mission-critical functionality, low-power operation, flow-based QoS and native support for shared spectrum.
Industry expectations are that LTE-Advanced and 5G will coexist for many years.
With Rantastic you can calculate 5G Small Cells and Wi-Fi 6 without any issues and compare these two technologies.
Rantastic supports planning for 5G starting from just 99$ per month at the moment and Wi-Fi6 just for 29 USD.
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